Former Special Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Chris Heben was headed to buy his mom a birthday gift March 28 when, following an altercation, he was shot in the parking lot of a Bath Township, Ohio, shopping center. The bullet pierced Heben’s lower abdomen.
Rather than call for help, Heben, 44, hopped in his truck and tried to chase down his assailant while holding a finger in his bullet wound. Within minutes, he was seeing stars, he told Navy Times, so he decided to pull over at a police station and get some medical attention.
It all started when a gray, low-profile sports car nearly backed up into him in the parking lot. Heben said they exchanged strong words, but no one was yelling.
“You almost ran me over,” he recalled saying. “If I wasn’t paying attention, I’d be under your car right now.”
Thinking the situation was over, he headed for the Mustard Seed Market & Cafe. But then the car came back and Heben got shot.
Navy Times spoke to Heben over the phone April 3, following his discharge from the hospital.
Q. What happened when the car pulled up?
A. I’m going toward the store and he comes up next to me and shoots me through the door, basically. He said, “you got a real big mouth and you need to learn some respect. Where I come from we have to earn respect. I’d be willing to help you with that right now,” or something like that.
And then he looked at his buddy, turned back and looked at me, and that’s when I felt like I got mule-kicked in the gut. I never saw a gun.
I had a gun in my car at that time, a Glock. If I would have had the gun on me, I still think, legally, I couldn’t have shot because I didn’t see a gun.
Q. Did you see the plate?
A. No, but that’s why I gave chase. I’m all amped up. You know, I’m a SEAL — I’m not thinking 911, I’m thinking, ‘must catch people.’
Q. How long did you follow the car?
A. I could never get more than 75 yards from them because I have a truck, they have a souped up little car. At some point in time, I’m like, I can’t follow these guys anymore. There’s a police station literally right here, I’m going to pull in there and get some help.
I went from seeing stars to like, looking through a kaleidoscope into a lava lamp. Everything was kind of blue.
I would just guess it was less than five minutes. My belly was on fire. I got shot about five inches below my belly button and about an inch over from that.
It was burning, my heart’s racing, I’m sweating, my eyes aren’t working. And I’m thinking, what’s the end game here? If you catch up to them, and you probably won’t, what are you going to do?
You’re going to pit maneuver them, and spin them out, and hope you can get out with your gun? And you still haven’t seen a gun, and now you’re pursuing people, which is outside of the concealed carry statutes. Dude, just get help.
Q. Had you ever been shot in combat?
A. I was never shot in combat, no. I’ve been fragged, you know, from nearby explosions, [rocket-propelled grenades], things like that. Maybe a bullet hitting a wall and getting metal fragments.
It’s funny, because the doctor comes out, and my parents are in the room. And he goes, “I just have to tell you, you have a lot of other metal in you.” He’s pointing at my body, going, “You have it here, you have it here, you have it here.”
And my mom looks at my dad, and she’s glaring at me, and she’s like, “So you’ve been hurt before, and you never said anything?!”
Apparently this penetrated a few inches into my abdomen and the doctor said he had to repair a few holes in my small intestine. They pulled it out, but I don’t know what it is, what caliber it is.
Q. Do the police have any leads?
A. No, I think they’re kind of at a loss. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t keep anyone in the loop. They just kind of do their thing, you know, and that’s understandable.
Heben served from 1996 to 2006 with SEAL Team 8, with deployments to Iraq, Africa, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Later he became a close quarters combat and urban operations instructor with Naval Special Warfare Group 2. Since his discharge, he’s served as a special operations contractor overseas and been featured on numerous television specials, in addition to expert panels on CNN and FOX News.
For more information on his work, check out www.chrisheben.com.